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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (PS Vita) Review

By Az Elias 14.09.2014 8

Review for Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair on PS Vita

After the wonderfully sadistic Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc filled a large gap in the visual novel genre in the West last February, the second half of what was previously a twin package of titles on PS Vita in Japan arrives in Europe and North America, only just over half a year later. Monokuma's psychotic killing game is back in action in Danaganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.

Danganronpa 2 takes a very familiar approach from the offset, where high school student Hajime Hinata is accepted into Japan's renowned Hope's Peak Academy - an institute that hand picks only the ultimate students of varying talents from around the country. Upon entering the school for his first day and meeting his new classmates, however, things get a little awry, and they find themselves losing consciousness and waking up with a chunk of memories missing. A pink talking rabbit holding some sort of magical wand appears from behind the desk of the classroom the students end up in, and within seconds, reveals that they aren't in Hope's Peak Academy at all; they are on a school trip on a tropical island!

This rabbit, called Usami, bears a suspicious similarity to the antagonist of the first Danganronpa (is she good or evil?), and it doesn't take long for the black and white bear himself to crash the party. Monokuma has other ideas about Usami's fun school trip in the sun, and after giving her a beat down and a makeover, alongside rebranding her 'Monomi' and declaring her now his "little sister," he takes it upon himself to lead the proceedings, and puts into motion the 'killing school trip.' Hajime and his fellow students have little idea what has happened in this short space of time - one moment they were entering the doors to the best school in the world, the next they are waking up on a tropical island that's been overtaken by some crazy bear. They want to leave, but are forced into an unreal predicament that Monokuma has enforced; the only way to get off Jabberwock Island for good is to kill a classmate and get away with it.

Screenshot for Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair on PS Vita

There will be those that previously finished Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc wondering what connection this storyline has to the first game and its ending. After all, Danganronpa 2's opening hours are seemingly completely unrelated events, but essentially play out in the same way, albeit with a different cast. With the return of one or two recognisable faces, though, there are constant teases that create all sorts of questions, hinting that there is more to the murder game on this island than just pure coincidence, and ultimately make for a strong desire to see exactly where the overall plot is being taken. Within time, it all becomes clear…

The key for any visual novel is to be immediately engrossing, and just like the first game, its lovable main cast of sixteen characters means it doesn't even matter that it takes four to five hours for the first murder to even occur. So expertly written is each and every unique student, their personalities clashing and making for hilarious dialogue, that the narrated hours rush by in what feel like mere moments. Some characters do have resemblances in more ways than one to those in Danganronpa, but it is so easy to develop favourites and end up liking the entire cast for their own quirks and individualities. Just like the previous title, too, murder cases can pull on the heartstrings and cause fearful moments where it is hoped certain best-loved characters aren't the ones to be bumped off next… or indeed don't end up being proven to be the killer!

The same rules apply outside of the killing game. Still mostly played in a first-person perspective to examine objects of interest with a reticule in a point-and-click manner, Hajime is able to wander between various locations on the island, and the investigation periods after a murder has been committed entail obtaining all of the necessary clues gained from talking to people and highlighting curious spots. There are some welcome mix-ups thrown into the locations and gameplay, with one standout puzzle section coming right out of the Zero Escape book - numerous throwbacks to Spike Chunsoft-related games are aplenty and instantly crack a few smiles. Where the previous title consisted of only the main school building to roam around and a lack of variety outside of the class trial gameplay, it's good to see Danganronpa 2 try a few new things and expand the size of its playing areas.

Screenshot for Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair on PS Vita

Class trials themselves play out in very much identical fashion to Danganronpa, where various mini-games involving the evidence collected during an investigation are used to shoot down people's contradictions, agree with statements, and to simply come to the overall truth to find the killer. The Nonstop Debate returns as the core mechanic, as sentences fire across the screen as they are spoken by students, with key words that contain truths and contradictions highlighted, which must be either ignored or acted upon. By selecting the correct 'Truth Bullet' that contains evidence gathered it must be fired at the necessary statement to prove it wrong or - new to this game - agree with it.

The frustrating Hangman's Gambit returns, as a specific word or phrase must be guessed and correctly spelled out by firing at the required letters that sail across the screen, and the new Logic Dive puts Hajime in an on-rails snowboarding-like sci-fi zone, where the right paths must be picked to come to the correct answers to questions. Rebuttal Showdown involves a one-on-one battle against a student on the other side of an argument, where some quicker reactions are needed to cut down their words with limited attempts, and Panic Talk Action is similar to Bullet Time Battle of the first game, the aim being to destroy the opponent's assertions by staying in rhythm.

Screenshot for Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair on PS Vita

That's a brief gist of the various mini-games featured in the class trials of Danganronpa 2, where there are some twists on established components, and a few brand new activities, too. For the most part, when it doesn't take too long to figure out what Truth Bullets to use and the correct answers to certain questions, the class trials are fast and furiously fun. However, it's easy to get stumped during certain sections, and cycling through all sorts of evidence and shooting down different incorrect statements can lead on to a path of frustration. Hangman's Gambit, in particular, can be a pain when the answer is unknown and it ends up being a case of firing random letters in the hope of working out what the phrase is supposed to be, all the while taking the damage being done to the influence gauge required to stay in the game on the chin. It can be said for mostly all mini-games that once trial and error creeps in, that's when it's easy to fall into a trap.

What mini-game issues that do crop up in less frequent situations, however, are forgotten about thanks to the satisfyingly gripping plot. Each murder scenario is written incredibly well, and rarely is it ever simple to work out who the culprits are prior to the class trials beginning, or indeed even towards the middle or latter stages of a case. Danganronpa 2 will have minds toing and froing between different students and the presumed killers on so many occasions, and it's often a shock once the revelation arrives.

Never wanting the game to end was a feeling felt throughout Danganronpa, and it is the very same case in Danganronpa 2. Thankfully, this one even lasts a little bit longer, and delivers the goods in the final hours, clearing up a few mysteries from the original title. Just like its prequel, though, it only leaves cries for more, as not only is it so hard to say goodbye to the characters, but the story seems to keep on expanding and throwing up more unanswered questions. Luckily, it looks like there is still more to come from this unforgettable visual novel series, and rightly so. Danganronpa 2 continues the exemplary standard of the first game and places it in the bracket of must-have series on the PS Vita.

Screenshot for Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Twists and turns, shocks and revelations; Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is every bit as an emotional rollercoaster as the first game, and doesn't let up in its cruel plot. Many questions from Danganronpa are answered, but it also leaves doors open for more to come. Some characters feel a bit copy-paste and not as standout as ones from the prequel at first, but they mostly all grow into lovable individuals that create plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, far outweighing any such initial discrepancies. The on-going battle of Hope vs. Despair sinks its teeth in and doesn't let go until the last moment. Coupled with Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, this is a series no visual novel aficionado can do without.

Developer

Spike Chunsoft

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

The genre of these games is 'Horror'? Just how much of that is in there and how does it compare to 999 and Virtue's Last Reward, two other games I've heard some off-putting things about? I did love the story of Ghost Trick on the DS that was about solving murder mysteries, but that game was tame overall. I'm in a bit of a tricky spot here, I'm interested in checking out Danganronpa and maybe even the two other games mentioned above, but I'm too scared of spoilers to research whether these games are suitable for me or not. I'm a pretty big scaredy cat when it comes to horror stuff, after all. Smilie

I'd really appreciate some help from people who have played these games. Smilie

They're murder mystery visual novels with a splash of a horror factor because the theme is murder. Don't have a visual novel genre option so I put them as horror, but will change to adventure for now. It's not horror with jumps and scares like a survival horror, just the theme is horrific.

Something like that might barely do, then. Do you have to make decisions that affect who survives or stuff like that? I think you have to in 999 and VLR, which is one thing that puts me off a lot. Not sure about Danganronpa, though.

Nope, it's all fixed in DR.

That's great news for me. Not sure if it's my OCD kicking in or not, but I much prefer stories that are fixed where I can just sit back and enjoy the ride without any worries. Little variations are fine, but anything substantial bothers me for some reason. "What if I did this instead?..." won't leave my thoughts, but finding out lessens the impact of the path I picked the first time around and the story in general. Basically, I lose either way. It's hard to explain, but that's why I generally stay away from games that do have this stuff. The light decision making in Tales of Xillia 2 just barely didn't cross that border.

Think I'll put both Danganronpa games on my list to pick up in the near future. After all, I really need to work on my Vita collection. I've yet to buy a single extra game for it, actually. Smilie

Definitely understand the multiple path complaints. It's something you have to really be in the mood for and I'll only put up with it for certain games that really draw me in.

999 had multiple endings, and one true ending. You needed to view one certain ending to then do the true ending, but it was a pain because you had to replay every puzzle if they happened to be on the same path. Text could only be sped up if read before, but not skipped entirely (but it was a very quick fast-forward function).

VLR nailed it by giving you a road map, letting you jump to the branching moments to go down another path. No replaying text or puzzles; nothing was repeated. You could just get the full story by going down all paths and eventually it all lead to the true ending. Less frustrating than 999, but both fantastic stories.

Zero Escape has more gameplay than DR due to its puzzles, but DR takes it for me with its characters and story.

Just finished this last night/this morning ish

A amazing story and even had me on the verge of tears at one point

Would definitely recommend both games to anyone with a Vita

gf20 said:
Just finished this last night/this morning ish

A amazing story and even had me on the verge of tears at one point

Would definitely recommend both games to anyone with a Vita

Definitely quite emotional in both games. The first game probably more so, in my opinion, but the second is just as good. Just wonderful characters and overall story all around. Thanks for the thoughts!

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